Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin and the “Gender Gap”

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:00 pm

Everyone keeps asking if Sarah Palin will help the McCain ticket appeal to women voters — especially voters who preferred Hillary Clinton.

What everyone seems to be missing is that Palin will appeal to men — perhaps even more.

Liberal women who care more about liberalism than gender will not switch to McCain because he’s running with a conservative woman. The “Debra” vote — Clinton voters who switched to McCain on the basis of Obama’s lack of “experience” may not be followed by more “experience” voters, especially if they measure experience by years in office. (Obviously, some people will count Palin as “more experienced” than Obama because she’s accomplished more even thought she has about the same number of years in office. But those people probably weren’t voting for Obama anyway.)

The demographic that Palin brings to the ticket is going to include a lot of men who were lukewarm McCain supporters who might have stayed home — but think it’s really cool to have a woman on the ticket who hunts, fishes, likes guns, and does all kinds of “macho” stuff with a husband who’s even more macho (He does multi-thousand-mile snowmobile races!). Seriously: Think about guys who like to go hunting on the weekends, but who’s wives don’t like them to leave for an activity they see as pointless. They will look at Palin and say, “Wow — that’s the kind of woman I like.”

I say this as a male with no interest whatsoever in hunting.

I ran this by Different Mother, who said, “Of course [she'll appeal to men]! She’s gorgeous!”

The Democrats are not going to know what hit them….

June 19, 2008

Not all Hollywood People are Liberals

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:27 am

At least, not on all issues.

Here’s Angelina Jolie on the Second Amendment:

“If anybody comes into my home and tries to hurt my kids, I’ve no problem shooting them.” That’s Angelina Jolie, revealing her up-with-the-Second-Amendment maternal instincts to Britain’s Mail on Sunday.

And, as an added warning, the protective mom of Maddox, 6, Pax, 4, Zahara, 3, Shiloh, 2, and the still-baking, Brad Pitt-spawned double buns in her oven, points out that she “bought original, real guns of the type we used in ‘Tomb Raider’ for security.”

“Brad and I are not against having a gun in the house, and we do have one,” acknowledges Jolie[.]

February 15, 2008

How could that shooting possibly have happened?

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:13 pm

You’ve probably heard the news of the shooting at Northern Illinois University, in which a former student got up on the stage of a lecture hall with a shotgun and two or three handguns, and shot 22 people, five fatally, then killed himself.

The question is, how could that possibly have happened? In Illinois, it’s illegal to carry a gun on campus — or pretty much anywhere for that matter. Didn’t that guy know he could have gotten into a lot of trouble if he’d been caught carrying those guns?

Normally in these situations people call for stricter gun laws. But in Illinois, the gun laws are already pretty much as strict as they can be. Obviously, the message is not getting through to the right people. Clearly, they need a large-scale ad campaign informing the public that’s illegal to carry guns. Better education would have prevented this tragedy … right?

November 27, 2007

Girls with Guns

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:28 pm

Meryl Yourish writes:

I grew up in New Jersey, and was taught to hate handguns. Really. Shotguns and rifles were okay if you hunted (not that I ever had the desire to hunt), but handguns? Evil. Death machines. The only reason to have one is to use it to kill someone. People get killed all the time by handguns, mostly people who found one, played with it, and shot themselves or someone else by accident. At least, that’s the lore I grew up on. But I’ve known since I moved to Virginia that it’s a very gun-friendly state, and y’know, I’m a woman alone, and my neighborhood has gone downhill considerably in the last two years. I’ve been thinking a lot about learning to shoot and buying a gun.

Which is why I spent Sunday afternoon at the Blue Ridge Arsenal in northern Virginia learning to load, shoot, and unload four different kinds of handguns. Plus a rifle.

So, you can take the girl out of New Jersey — and you can actually take New Jersey out of the girl, too!

Or can you?

While we were waiting, I could hear some very loud reports from inside the shooting range. I didn’t realize it was going to be that loud, and I have to say, I was starting to get scared. I was wondering if maybe this was one of the stupidest things I’d ever decided to do. By the time it was our turn, I was pretty positive I was going to hate it. Inside the range it was even worse—we had earplugs and ear protection, but it was loud and startling and I was getting really nervous. But I figured I was there, I’d paid, I may as well at least try to shoot. Stretch started me on the rifle at three yards.

Turns out — you can!

You know, it took exactly one shot to make my nerves disappear. I loaded the rifle, locked the bolt, cocked the hammer, aimed, and fired. And I hit the target. Where it counts. …

Granted, it was only three yards, but [Instructor] Stretch told me he started me out close to build up my confidence before moving on to tougher targets. It totally worked. I spent the next few minutes loading, shooting, clearing out the shell casing, loading, shooting, clearing out the shell casing… it was kinda cool to see the little pieces of metal go flying out of the rifle. (I saved the shell casing from my first shot. Think I’ll drill a hole in it and add it to my keychain.) And we moved the target back to seven yards.

The rifle was the most fun to shoot. I’m thinking my first purchase is going to be a relatively inexpensive .22 rifle, especially since everyone tells me that you can buy a brick of 500 .22 rounds for about $10 at Wal-Mart. That’s a lot of hours of target shooting. Have I mentioned how much I really, really liked shooting that rifle?

But there is always time for reflection, even while having, er, a blast:

While I was at the range …, I was absolutely struck by the thought that every single person in the lanes next to me had the capacity to kill every other person there. And so did I[.]

Well, that’s true. But every single person also has the capacity to kill while driving, using household cleaning chemicals or power tools, or by slipping somebody too many over-the-counter pills or some antifreeze.

Society depends on the fact that most people don’t want to kill anybody. And guns in the right hands make it possible to stop some of those who do.

July 21, 2006

Mass murder stopped by armed civilian

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:55 pm

If any of you out there still think there’s no benefit to having ordinary people carry guns, look at this:

8 Grocery Employees Stabbed in Tennessee

By Woody Baird

MEMPHIS (AP) — A knife-wielding grocery store employee attacked eight co-workers Friday, seriously injuring five before a witness pulled a gun and stopped him, police said.

The 21-year-old suspect, whose name was withheld pending charges, was arrested and then taken to a hospital after complaining of chest pains, Memphis Police Sgt. Vince Higgins said. The attack apparently stemmed from a work dispute, police said.

Five victims, one in critical condition, were admitted to the Regional Medical Center, the main trauma hospital for the Memphis area. Three others were less badly hurt and treated at another hospital.

The attacker, chasing one victim into the store’s parking lot, was subdued by Chris Cope, manager of a financial services office in the same small shopping center, Higgins said.

Cope said he grabbed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from his pickup truck when he saw the attacker chasing the victim “like something in a serial killer movie.”

“When he turned around and saw my pistol, he threw the knife away, put his hands up and got on the ground,” Cope told The Associated Press. “He saw my gun and that was pretty much it.”

Police arrived within minutes and took the attacker into custody.

Note that police didn’t arrive until “minutes” after the guy with the gun subdued the guy on a potentially murderous rampage.

July 4, 2006

Independence Day

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:45 am

Happy Independence Day!

I know, it’s actually “July 4th” or the “Fourth of July,” but it’s official name is “Independence Day,” and I think it’s a good idea to call it that every once in a while, so we don’t forget why we have this holiday.

In particular, remember that the Declaration of Independence does not begin by saying:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary to establish a holiday in early summer, late enough that it’s not all that likely to rain, so we can cook outside and enjoy the manifest bounty of various forms of beef on the grill, or chicken for those watching their cholesterol, and to end the day with a colorful display of fireworks whose symbolism has long been forgotten, but which are really beautiful anyway …

Nor does it say:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary to establish a federal government to provide jobs, health care, education, drug approvals, seat-belt and helmet laws, farm subsidies to keep food prices high, food stamps for those who can’t afford the high prices, and to tax the rich to maintain “fairness” and “equality” …

No, the actual Declaration of Independence begins like this:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

That last part is really the part that was “revolutionary.” Prior to that point in time, it was generally agreed that whoever had the most soldiers, knights, weapons, and so on had the right to rule however he (or sometimes, she) wanted, to collect taxes for his own personal benefit, and to have the power of life and death over his subjects and anyone he could bring under his authority by force of arms. In some times and places, this was called the “Divine Right of Kings” — and of course, the king obtained this “divine right” by having the most soldiers, weapons, etc.

The king derived his powers from force of arms, not from principles of justice or the consent of the governed. It was the people’s job to serve the king and his government.

The Declaration of Independence turned this on its head, claiming — ludicrously, it must have seemed to most Europeans at the time — that it was the government’s job to serve the people, and the government’s right to exercise power came not from force of arms, but from “the consent of the governed.”

That was truly Revolutionary — and the only reason it didn’t sound ludicrous in the colonies is that they had been more or less governing themselves in many matters for 150 years. This was of course due more to geographic isolation from the king and slow communications than to any matters of principle, but the funny this about freedom is that once you get it, you get used to it, and you don’t want to give it up. Mikhail Gorbachev discovered this the hard way when he tried to save the collapsing Soviet economy by giving people a small degree of freedom. The taste of it was enough to them to bring on the collapse of the entire Soviet enterprise, from Kamchatka to East Berlin. (Remember when there was an “East” Berlin?)

It’s worth noting the causes of two of the seminal events in the American Revolution — the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against high taxes on tea (from which a government-favored company was exempt, the way some localities “grant” tax breaks to companies to “attract jobs”). The Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred when General Thomas Gage ordered British troops in Boston to confiscate guns and ammunition from the people of Concord.

In other words, we declared independence and started a war to get rid of high taxes and gun control. Don’t tell John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, who live where it all started. ;-)

Jim Hoeft at Bearing Drift has some more cynical — but sadly, true — thoughts.

Kat of CatHouseChat is slightly more positive.

And Here’s the Virginia Blog Carnival — Independence Day edition

February 1, 2006

Latest Advance in Gender Equality!

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:57 pm

In a story on the recent postal shooting in Santa Barbara, MSNBC notes:

Monday night, [Jennifer] Sanmarco fatally shot six postal employees at the mail processing plant before committing suicide in what is believed to be the deadliest workplace shooting by a woman.

Finally, women have broken the male monopoly on mass workplace shootings!

I wonder what NOW is going to say about that. After all, we know what they said about the previous great icon of feminism, Andrea Yates.

By the way, I suppose it would be churlish to point out to gun-control advocates that this happened in (1) a state with strict gun-control laws, including (2) a 15-day waiting period for the purchase of a handgun, during which there is supposed to be (3) a background check to make sure that people with a history of mental illness like hers are supposed to be prevented from buying a gun, and and (4) in a facility — a post office — in which carrying a gun without authorization is a federal crime.

None of that stopped Jennifer Sanmarco — because after all, if you are going to kill yourself right after committing the crimes, what difference does it make that the crims are punishable by jail time? However, gun-control laws could well have prevented any of the other employees from having a gun at work like people can in 38 other states, and they might have been able to stop the rampage sooner.

January 20, 2006

Different Responses to Crime

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:59 am

A couple of weeks ago, someone was beaten to death in an apparent robbery on the streets of Washington, DC.

Of course, this happens all the time — there are almost 200 murders a year in Washington, DC. But most of those murders are of poor people, tourists, or Metro commuters, so the cognoscenti rarely take notice. What makes this murder different is that the victim was a longtime New York Times reporter and editor, David E. Rosenbaum. Now that is an outrage! New York Times reporters are supposed to b exempt from these things!

More interesting, however, is the reaction of the local media. They have focused on the notion that “mistakes were made” in the investigation, the ambulance response, and that sort of thing. They seem to take as given that crimes are to be expected, and society’s job is merely to respond — to send an ambulance to pick up the victim, and, if possible, put the murderer away (say, for a “maximum sentence” of five years).

One blogger, “The Conservative UAW Guy,” has a more strident view, which challenges this whole world view, and refuses to take victimhood as a given. He expresses it rather sardonically, but I think he gets his point across:

I wonder if New York Times editor and reporter David E. Rosenbaum was saying
“Thank God I don’t have an evil, redneck, knuckle-dragger firearm.”, as he was beaten to death by his (at large) attackers. He was anti-gun; but all the way to the very end? I wonder.

How many deaths are attributable to liberals disarming law-abiding citizens.

The world may never know…

I’m quite certain the Times is glad he wasn’t armed.
“Think of the children, David.”

I guess the main thing is no one got shot. Don’t you feel safer?

Yay! Gun control works!!

My prayers are with him and his family. I hope his killers get shot.

David E. Rosenbaum wasn’t killed with a gun, but that is little comfort. He was probably attacked by people physically much stronger than he was, perhaps with a baseball bad or some similar innocuous object that could be used as a weapon. I don’t know the state of his health, but at age 63 he was probably not much match for (possibly) younger criminals. Had he been armed with a gun, he could have had a chance at defending himself — a gun can make a less physically strong person more than a match for a stronger person with only fists, a baseball bat, or even a knife — and an even match or better for an attacker with a gun.

The primary effect of gun control is to disarm people who are less able to resist attackers. Actually, in many cases it’s even worse than that, because those who are willing to disobey laws against robbery, assault, rape, and murder are more than likely willing to disobey laws against carrying guns as well. Thus, those willing to obey the law are disarmed and those willing to commit crimes are emboldened.

One of the underlying assumptions of gun control — and this doesn’t apply exactly to the Rosenbaum event, but the principle is the same — can be summed up like this:

A woman raped and strangled is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet.

And that is about as pro-crime a sentiment as I can imagine.

(See also: 40 Reasons For Gun Control.)

January 16, 2006


Filed under: — Different River @ 7:13 pm

Given today’s federal holiday, I’d like to reprise this post from last week.

January 11, 2006

MLK and Self-Defense

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:00 pm

The Virginia Citizens Defense League is a pro-gun-rights group in Virginia (obviously). They have no paid staff, just a bunch of volunteers. So, to ask members of the Virginia General Assembly to vote for gun-rights bills, they scheduled a “lobby day” for Monday January 16 — when they expect many members to have the day off from work in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Their announcement of the “lobby day” had this interesting tidbit:

As usual the anti[-gun-rights group]s can’t get it right to save their souls. They also are planning on lobbying that day. In an email message they said that it was a fitting day because MLK was against violence — implying that by opposing their victim disarmament agenda that gun owners support violence.

I would like to point out that MLK had armed Deacons, who of course are [i.e., were] just normal citizens, providing security for him!

Indeed we are lobbying to protect the very right that those Deacons exercised back in the 1960′s.

The Deacons for Defense and Justice were a black self-defense group with a fascinating history. Founded in Jonesboro, LA to combat the violence of the KKK, they went on to provide security for civil-rights groups like the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Southern Christian Leadership Campaign (SCLC — Martin Luther King’s organization).

Larry Pratt writes:

The Deacons first emerged as a visible self-defense force in Jonesboro, LA. From the very beginning the Deacons represented a new force in the civil rights movement — leadership had passed from white northern liberals (and blacks who bought into that liberalism) to southern working class blacks who lived in the very communities where the Deacons were active.

The spring and summer of 1964 was a time of growing anti-segregation demonstrations in Jonesboro. The Klan responded at one point with a menacing parade through the black section of town — led by the chief of police. The Deacons informed the chief that if that happened again, “there would be some killing going on.” The Klan never did that again.

Cross burning ended suddenly the night that a cross was set on fire in front of a clergyman’s house. Shots rang out aimed at the Klan as the torch touched the cross. The Klan departed and never repeated that trick.

Hill found that the Deacons did not take just anybody into their ranks for this rather “high octane” volunteer work. They screened the applicants to make sure they were getting men who could handle the pressure and not go off half cocked.

During a desegregation effort at the Jonesboro High School, the authorities brought up fire trucks and prepared to hose the black students attempting to enter the school. The Deacons pulled up and four men publicly loaded shotguns and then made it plain that the lead was for the firemen if they turned the hoses on. The firemen wisely beat a retreat.

This was a very significant event. This was a self-defense effort in the spirit of the American War for Independence. The government was attempting to exercise illegitimate power (enforcing an unbiblical law which by this time also violated federal law) and it was repulsed by the use of community force — by the militia, if you will.

The Deacons were in the great tradition of American freedom — liberty is not given by tyrants and thugs, it is wrested from their hands by force.

Jonesboro saw one more exercise of defensive force before the Klan was finally convinced that they could not intimidate the black community. When Deacon Elmo Jacobs was driving a carload of white civil rights workers, they were fired upon and took a load of buckshot in the door of Jacobs’ car. Jacobs returned fire and the Klan attack ended immediately — and for good.

In Bogalusa, LA, Hill found that the police made no attempt to stop the attacks and in fact took pains to arrest blacks who had armed themselves in self defense. In other words, gun control was simply a tool of people control and had nothing to do with fighting crime. Had crime control been the concern, plenty of opportunities had come and gone to arrest the Klan.

FBI agent Frank Hicks warned Bogalusa blacks that any self-defense shooting by a black — of a white — would result in an arrest for murder. He did not explain where the FBI had any legal or constitutional authority for such a move, but the Deacons were not interested in a scholarly debate. They simply told Hicks that self defense is a constitutional right. Hicks got the message.

A lethal moment in Bogalusa shocked the Klan into the realization that blacks were no longer chattel punching bags. During a 1965 summer desegregation demonstration, white hecklers turned violent and threw a brick which struck Hattie Mae Hill. The white mob surrounded the car the Deacons were using to attempt an evacuation of the terrified girl.

As the mob threatened to break into the car, Deacon Henry Austin shouted that he had a gun. Then he fired a warning shot from his .38 into the air. The mob kept closing in. Austin then fired almost point blank into the chest of Alton Crowe who was in the front of the mob. While Crowe survived, the fun of beating up on blacks died that afternoon in Bogalusa.

When I discuss the Second Amendment with people, I often have to point out the right to keep and bear arms has nothing to do with duck hunting, and was not even originally enacted for purposes of self-defense against crime. It was enacted because of the belief that an armed populace is a protection against a despotic government; just as the popular militias rose up against the British colonial government in the 1770s, an armed population serves as a protection, and a deterent against despotism nowadays as well.

The inevitable response is that the old purpose is simply not realistic today. How could out government become oppressive when we have a democracy? How could armed citizens resist, when the government has tanks, fighter planes, and nuclear bombs? The Deacons give us the answer: A democratic government can become oppressive against a subset of its citizens if the majority support it, and “the government” might not be the federal government with tanks and nuclear bombs, but a local government with a police force that is on the side of the majority and has no qualms about oppressing that subset.

Could such a thing happen today? Well, 1965 is not that long ago. While violent oppression of Blacks on a large scale does not seem likely now, there are plenty of other groups who with unpopular views, unpopular religions, and unpopular people — and the Constitution is enough to protect their rights only as long as the government officials are sufficiently committed to it. That this is not always a sure thing is underscored by the fact that it took a century to properly implement the 14th and 15th Amendments — and only then at the barrel of the Deacons’ guns.

The Deacons have recently been the subject of two books: The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement by Lance E. Hill, and The Deacons for Defense and Justice: Defenders of the African American Community in Bogalusa, Louisiana During the 1960′s by L. LaSimba M. Gray, Jr., and a TV documentary, which has a review by Amin Sharif (with a picture).

December 29, 2005

There’s got to be a word for this…

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:22 pm

“This,” being: taking an occassional glance at the Carnival of Cordite (gun-related blog posts) and discovering a nice (apparently) Orthodox Jewish blogging couple who like to shoot.

That is, Leah Guildenstern, whose husband Jack just signed on as a co-blogger.

Not surprisingly, one of the links on their blogroll is to the blog of the special-forces-turned-Orthodox-Rabbi “Rabbi Rambo,” that is, Rabbi Lazer Brody. As if to bring things full circle, Rabbi Brody links to this post on the modern-day implications of Hannuka by Steven Plaut, to whom Rabbi Brody says he has just been introduced. Believe it or not, I actually had dinner with Steven Plaut once, at a now-defunct kosher Thai restaurant in Skokie, Illinois. Where, Leah Guildenstern would presumably be disappointed to discover, it is very difficult to legally own a gun.

Until today, I had never heard of anyone mentioned above except Steve Plaut — and the proprietor of the Carnival of Cordite, Gullyborg. Who, it just so happens, is getting married today! Congratulations!

So much for this “six degrees of separation” stuff. Try three.

Leah also links to this article about Robert Aumann, who co-won this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, who applies economic analysis to thinks like war and gun control. Nice.

December 22, 2005

More on Cory Maye

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:30 pm

Radley Balko is continuing to dig up more information on the case of Cory Maye case, the man who shot someone who broke down his door and rushed his daughters bedroom — and is now facing the death penalty because that someone turned out to be a policeman serving a “no-knock” warrant on the drug dealer next door.

He has posted PDF files of the trial transcripts.

One of the main issues in the case — in fact, perhaps the only issue — is if Mr. Maye knew, or even could have known, that the guy breaking down his door was a police officer. The other police testified that they were in uniform and annonced “Police!” as (before?) they broke down the door; Maye, who was asleep at the time, said he didn’t hear anything until they burst into the room in which he and his daughter were sleeping. Now, Radley Balko found the following interesting fact, which really seems to back up Maye’s version of the event:

As it turns out, only one officer from the narcotics task force went along on the raid. Jones seems to have assembled an ad-hoc team of eight police officers to conduct the raid, including himself; a volunteer police officer from Bassfield named Phillip Allday; Darryl Graves, the task force officer; another Prentiss police department officer; and officers from both the Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s department and the Bassfield department.

I think this reflects even more poorly on the way the raid was handled. Only one of the eight officers — the officer from the task force — had any narcotics training at all. He was on the four-man team who executed the warrant for the other apartment, that of Jamie Smith. Which means none of the officers who raided Maye’s home had training in serving a high-risk narcotics warrant.

Here’s another troubling tidbit — it was the ununiformed volunteer cop who kicked down Maye’s door. Also, given his volunteer status, Allday wasn’t authorized to announce “police” prior to entering the apartment. [Italics his, boldface mine. --DR]

So, the one officer who normally is required to announce “Police” did not have they authority to do so — and was not in uniform. This means that either (1) the police are not following their own rules, or (2) they are lying, or (3) both.

Which makes the following even more disturbing:

The jury retired to deliberate at 10:38am on January 23 [2004]. By 11:49am, they had returned with a guilty verdict. At 2:20pm, the death penalty phase of the trial began. The jury retired for death penalty deliberations at 4:35pm. By 6pm they had returned with a death sentence. By 6:27pm, Maye was senteneced to death by the judge. So it took the jury just an hour and ten minutes to convict him, and just an hour and twenty-five minutes to sentence him to death. All in the same afternoon. [Emphasis mine -DR]

Sorry, but I don’t see how, in such a short amount of time, anyone can truly consider whether a person truly should be put to death for a crime — especially for an act which is arguably justifiable to the point that it might not even be a crime. Something is fishy here. Very, very fishy.

Keep in mind that I support the death penalty — but only for people who are actually murderers!

December 19, 2005

An Innocent Man on Death Row

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:04 am

No, not “Tookie” Williams, who’s “innocent” only in the eyes of people who think it’s OK to kill Taiwanese immigrants. This is something competely different.

Radley Balko has this summary:

Sometime in late 2001, Officer Ron Jones collected a tip from an anonymous informant that Jamie Smith, who lived opposite [Cory] Maye in a duplex, was selling drugs out of his home. Jones passed the tip to the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force, a regional police agency in charge of carrying out drug raids in four surrounding counties. The task force asked Jones if he’d like to come along on the raid they’d be conducting as the result of his tip. He obliged.

On the night of December 26, the task force donned paramilitary gear, and conducted a drug raid on Smith’s house. …

As the raid on Smith commenced, some officers – including Jones — went around to what they thought was a side door to Smith’s residence, looking for a larger stash of drugs. … The door was actually a door to Maye’s home. Maye was home alone with his young daughter, and asleep, when one member of the SWAT team broke down the outside door. Jones, who hadn’t drawn his gun charged in, and made his way to Maye’s bedroom.

Cory Maye was in that bedroom with his 18-month-old daughter. He shot and killed the man he thought was an intruder bent on harming his daughter or him — but who turned out to be a police officer looking for the next-door neighbor.

Cory Maye — who had reason to fear for his life, and who, no prior criminal record whatsoever, had no reason to believe someone breaking into his apartment would be a police officer — is now on death row in Mississippi.

Balko continues:

Police said at trial that they did announce themselves before entering Maye’s apartment — Maye and his attorney say otherwise. I’m inclined to believe Maye, for reasons outlined in this post. However, even if they did, announcing seconds before bursting in just before midnight, isn’t much better than not announcing at all. An innocent person on the other end of the raid, particularly if still asleep, has every reason to fear for his life.). Maye, fearing for his life and the safety of his daughter, fired at Jones, hitting him in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later.

Maye had no criminal record, and wasn’t the target of the search warrant. Police initially concluded they had found no drugs in Maye’s side of the duplex. Then, mysteriously, police later announced they’d found “traces” of marijuana. I talked to the attorney who represented Maye at trial. She said that to her knowledge, police had found one smoked marijuana cigarette in Maye’s apartment. Regardless, since Maye wasn’t the subject of the search, whether or not he had misdemeanor amounts of drugs in his possession isn’t really relevant. What’s relevant is whether or not he reasonably believed his life was in danger. Seems pretty clear to me that that would be a reasonable assumption.

It apparently wasn’t so clear to Mississippi’s criminal justice system. In January of last year, Maye was convicted of capital murder for the shooting of Officer Jones. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

Let’s summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn’t named in the warrant, and wasn’t a suspect. The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door’s been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town’s police chief. He’s later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

Documents from the case are here.

Balko also quotes Mississippi’s murder and self-defense laws, which seem to make it clear that, from the facts that are not in dispute, Cory Maye did not violate the law:

Here’s the text of Mississippi’s “capital murder” law, for which Maye was convicted and sentenced to death:

“(2) The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be capital murder in the following cases:

(a) Murder which is perpetrated by killing a peace officer or fireman while such officer or fireman is acting in his official capacity or by reason of an act performed in his official capacity, and with knowledge that the victim was a peace officer or fireman…

Emphasis mine. The question is, did Maye know that Jones was a cop? I’ve yet to see trial transcripts or the police report, but Maye’s former attorney tells me that the police team conducting the raid insist they announced themselves before breaking into Maye’s apartment. The jury, I suppose, therefore concluded that a reasonable person in Maye’s position should have known that Jones was a cop.

Maye’s former attorney has her doubts. I have mine, too. There’s plenty of reason to suspect otherwise. First, it’s doubtful that Jones and the officer who broke the door down ahead of him announced themselves. It’s clear from the warrant that they weren’t even aware the target of the warrant was a duplex with a second, separate residence. What’s more, Jones stormed Maye’s bedroom unarmed, a pretty clear indication that the police didn’t believe someone else was taking up residence there. Why would a cop announce if (a) the SWAT team has already apprehended the subject of the raid, and (b) the entering cop desn’t suspect there’s anyone else in the room he’s entering?

Second, even if Jones or another officer did announce themselves, there’s still penty of reason to think a reasonable person in Maye’s position could still not have known the invaders were police.

It was late at night. It was dark. And Maye was frightened. Further, given that Maye wasn’t a criminal, wasn’t a drug dealer, and wasn’t the subject of the warrant, you could make a pretty good case that a guy like Maye would assume that anyone breaking down his door in the middle of the night would be anybody but a cop. He certainly hadn’t done anything to merit such a violent apprehension. Instead, a reasonable first reaction would have been to assume it was an intruder about to do him or his daughter harm.

Which brings us to self-defense. Maye’s actions didn’t meet a capital murder charge on its face. But he also had the right to defend himself, his daughter, and his home. Here’s Mississippi law on justifiable homicide:

(1) The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another shall be justifiable in the following cases:


f) When committed in the lawful defense of one’s own person or any other human being, where there shall be reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury, and there shall be imminent danger of such design being accomplished…

Put yourself in Maye’s shoes. You have no criminal record. You’ve done nothing wrong. In the middle of the night, in a bad neighborhood, you awake to find someone attempting to break down your door. The door flies open, and a man in black paramilitary gear comes storming into your bedroom, where your infant daughter also happens to be sleeping.

Not only is that set of circumstances “reasonable ground” to think that someone is about to do you “great personal injury,” and that you’re in “imminent danger” of said personal injury being accomplished, you’d be crazy not to take quick action to defend yourself.

The SWAT team was in Maye’s home illegally. And they failed to exercise due dilligence in obtaining the search warrant, given that they were obviously unaware that the target of the warrant was a duplex with a second residence. These are facts.

I’d argue that the town of Prentiss, and the men who executed the warrant owe Maye compensation. Lots of it. Instead, we’re arguing about whether Maye ought to be put to death for defending himself.

Something’s very wrong, here.

Here’s another interesting tidbit:

[S]everal people have asked about a legal fund, and about the adequacy of Maye’s current counsel. I don’t know about any defense fund, and I’m neither qualified nor the appropriate person to start one up. Should one get going, though, I’ll be sure to post the details. When I called the Mississippi ACLU shortly before putting up the first Maye post, they had never heard of his case. Perhaps they’d be the most likely source of competent representation for him.

Now, is it really reasonable to believe that there is a disputed death penalty case in Mississippi, and the Mississippi ACLU has never even heard of it? That’s really strange. That’s really, really strange.

The national media doesn’t seem to have taken any interest in the case, either. Keith Boykin thinks this is because Maye is black and the dead officer is white. But that doesn’t sound right to me; normally the media folks love a story with a racial angle like that — as does the ACLU.

What’s different about this case is that anyone taking the side of Cory Maye is taking the side of the right to self-defense, and by implication supporting Second Amendment rights.

And if there’s one constitutional right the ACLU opposes, and most of the national media opposes, it’s the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. They are not going to support Cory Maye, because that would undermine their position in support of gun control and against the right of self-defense. In their book, it’s OK, or at least forgivable, for Tookie Williams to muder a white convenience store clerk and three Taiwanese immigrants — but to be so uppity as to defend your own home and family is the only crime worthy of the death penalty they oppose for actual criminals.

Follow-up: Silent Running has an open letter to Governor Haley Barbour and Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy and Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber have some comments as well.

And, lest you think the solution is not to have a gun and/or not to shoot intruders, that won’t protect you either. The Last Blog reports that under similar circumstances “The Denver Police killed the wrong man because not only did they misidentify the victim the mistook a soda can for a weapon.”

October 20, 2005

Regulation by Lawsuit?

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:59 pm

Today the House of Representatives passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which restricts the ability of municipalities to sue gun manufacturers for damages caused by criminal misuse of products which are legally manufactured and legally sold. (In other words, it will prohibit suits like these.)

For the moment, put aside the question of whether this law is a good idea (See here and here for a discussion of the rationale behind the law).

Instead, consider the fact that over the decade or so that this law has been under discussion, proponents of the law always claimed that the lawsuits in question were attempts by cities to impose gun control measures by lawsuit that could not be imposed through the democratic process (i.e., by having elected legislatures pass laws), and to impose gun control measures nationwide, when they properly had jurisdiction only within their own municipal borders. Opponents of the law, of course, claimed that these lawsuits were only attempts to hold gun makers responsible for the damage caused by their products. (Leave aside also the question of whether the damage was caused by the “products” as opposed to the people using the products.)

Now that the law has passed, one of the leading opponents has — most likely inadvertently — conceded the other side’s argument! According to the AP,

“This legislation will make the unregulated gun industry the most pampered industry in America,” said Kristen Rand, director of the Violence Policy Center.

(Emphasis added.)

Now obviously it’s preposterous to claim that the gun industry is actually “unregulated.” It’s one of the most regulated manufacturing industries there is, right up there with pharmaceuticals and automobiles. Clayton Cramer has a list of sample regulations, and this is only a partial list — the actual regulations would fill several books. (UPDATE: Clayton now has a links to two large collections of BATFE regulations, here and here — the PDF version of these, which are literally books, take up 365 and 475 pages, respectively. And not one owrd of those regulations will be cancelled or changed by the new, 23-page statute.)

Clearly, by the term “[un]regulated,” Kristen Rand cannot mean that the gun industry is not subject to regulations by Congress, state legislatures, and bureaucrats — because it is, has been for a long time, and this new law will do nothing to change that. But she does say that this law makes the industry “unregulated,” and all this law does is say that if gun manufacturers comply with all the regulations regarding manufacturing and distribution, they aren’t liable for manufacturing and distribution. (They can still be sued if they violate those laws — e.g., if they knowingly sell a gun to a felon who flunks a federal background check — or if their products are actually defective.) So Rand must mean that if cities can’t sue to get gun makers to change their practices, the gun industry is unregulated!

Clearly, she has conceded the point that proponents of this law have been making all along — that the purpose of the lawsuits was to impose through the court regulations that could not be passed through the democratic process.

July 21, 2005

Another Argument Against Gun Control

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:40 am

Just when I thought I’d heard all the arguments on this issue…

Those opposed to gun control often argue that restrictions on gun ownership by definition disarm only law-abiding people. When laws restricting gun possession are passed, law-abiding people obey them and don’t buy or get rid of their guns. Criminals — who by definition do not obey the law — ignore laws against guns the same way they ignroe the laws against robbery, auto theft, murder, rape, and so on. After all, if someone is willing to violate the law against murder, what makes anyone think that person will obey a law against having the gun used to commit the murder?

So, the argument goes, gun control disarms law-abiding people and emboldens criminals, who know their intended victims are less likely to be armed. Since the victims are less likely to be armed, the “cost” of attempting a crime — in terms of probability of being injured or arrested — is lower. Thus, crime is more likely to pay, so criminals commit more crimes.

This all old hat, and has been extensively documented by John Lott.

But now, Capital Freedom has yet another argument, which is so obvious we all should have thought of it years ago. Because taking guns away from the law-abiding makes crime more profitable, and because it’s easier to commit certain crimes with guns, gun control increases the benefit to a criminal of having a gun. Since crime more “profitable,” a gun is more likely to be a profitable investment for a criminal. So criminals acquire not the same number of guns, but more of them.

In other words, gun control not only disarms the law-abiding, but actually encourages the criminals to obtain and use guns.

May 27, 2005

Always Blame the Inanimate Objects

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:39 am

In 1997, Britain banned essentially all private ownership of handguns. The intent, of course, was to reduce crime. The effect, of course, was the opposite:

Crime was not supposed to rise after handguns were banned in 1997. Yet, since 1996 the serious violent crime rate has soared by 69%: robbery is up by 45% and murders up by 54%. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50% from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned the robbery rate shot back up, almost back to their 1993 levels.

The 2000 International Crime Victimization Survey, the last survey done, shows the violent-crime rate in England and Wales was twice the rate in the U.S. When the new survey for 2004 comes out, that gap will undoubtedly have widened even further as crimes reported to British police have since soared by 35%, while declining 6% in the U.S.

In addition, over the last few decades, Britain has gradually reduced the right to self-defense, to the point that is doesn’t exist anymore in any meaningful sense:

Rather than permitting people to protect themselves, the authorities’ response to the recent series of brutal attacks on home-owners has been to advise people to get more locks and, in case of a break-in, retreat to a secure room – presumably the bathroom – to call the police. They are not to keep any weapon for protection or approach the intruder. Someone might get hurt. If that someone is the intruder the resident will be sued by the burglar and vigorously prosecuted by the state.

For almost 500 years, until 1954, England and Wales enjoyed a declining rate of violent crime. In the last years of the 19th century, when there were no restrictions on guns, there was just one handgun homicide a year in a population of 30 million people. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world.

The practical removal of the right to self defence began with Britain’s 1920 Firearms Act, the first serious limitation on privately-owned firearms. It was motivated by fear of a Bolshevik-type revolution rather than concerns about householders defending themselves against robbers. Anyone wanting to keep a firearm had to get a certificate from his local police chief certifying that he was a suitable person to own a weapon and had a good reason to have it. The definition of “good reason”, left to the police, was gradually narrowed until, in 1969, the Home Office decided “it should never be necessary for anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person”. Since these guidelines were classified until 1989, there was no opportunity for public debate.

Self defence within the home was also progressively legislated against. … The public were told that society would protect them and their neighbours. If they saw someone being attacked they were to walk on by, and leave it to the professionals.

Finally, in 1967, tucked into an omnibus revision of criminal law, approved without discussion, was a section that altered the traditional standards for self-defence. Everything was to depend on what seemed “reasonable” force after the fact. It was never deemed reasonable to defend property with force.

So what to do after you ban guns and self-defense, and crime increases? According to three British doctors, the answer is: ban pointed kitchen knives.

I mentioned this to my wife, and her first reaction was, “Is this a joke?” No, it’s not a joke, it’s not a parody, and the only “joke” is that they are actually being entirely serious. This was published in the British Medical Journal, and I think we should take it precisely as seriously as we would take an article on cancer treatment appearing in a criminology journal. But alas, the BBC at least seems to be taking it seriously. As is the British government, which had this response:

Home Office spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of knives.

“The law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of knives in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches.”

Oh, so it’s already illegal to carry knives in public. So no one can buy one and take it home from the store through a public place. So nobody has one anyway.

So that is why the rate of stabbing has increased so much in recent years … waitaminute….

April 18, 2005

Gun Safety in the Schools

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:32 am

My one-time (college freshman year) roommate is one of the smartest, most out-of-the-box thinkers I know. We used to (and sometimes still) talk about all sorts of things, and one of the things we talked about 17 years ago (egads!) was anything and everything about airlines and politics. He once called up SaudiArabian Airlines and asked for a flight to Israel, just for kicks. When told they don’t have flights to Israel (of course), he said, “But it is there, right?” The guy on the other end of the phone said “Yes,” and my friend then told him that since the airline was owned by the Saudi government, and he was therefore an employee of the Saudi government that he — and therefore the Saudi government — had just rec0gnized the existience of the State of Israel. It was one of those moments when you wished you had a videophone to see the look on the guy’s face.

He also had another brilliant idea: we could end all airline hijackings, if we would hand every passenger a gun as he or she got on the plane. “But,” I said, “most people don’t know how to use guns these days.” Even if only a few people need to be able to shoot straight to deter terrorists, people are so ignorant about guns these days that they’ll shoot them by mistake even when there are no hijackers.

“Well, people would have to learn, then,” he said.

“But it would have to be everybody! You’d have to totally re-organize society.” I said.

“Yes, everybody would have to learn,” he said.

“You mean like, have a course for everybody in high school, like driver’s ed?”

“Yes, like that!” he beamed. I’d solved his problem.

Lots of things have changed since 1988. For one things, 35 of the 50 states have passed laws that allow essentially any non-felon to carry a concealed handgun. And, like so many things I thought in 1988 that would never happen in my lifetime — from the fall of the Berlin Wall on down — we might someday see this, too.

Marksmanship for High School Diploma Enacted

[Arizona] Governor Signs Bill, Teaches Actual Gun Safety

A gun-safety bill for children breaks new ground. Worth one credit toward a high school diploma, the course requires Arizona students to safely discharge a firearm at a target to pass. American high schools used to have firing ranges in the basement, but the tradition began fading in the late 1960s. Gun-rights proponents believe that training and education leads to increased safety and responsible behavior.

The bill’s designers, concerned that “gun safety” could be turned into “gun avoidance” by gun-control politics, included statutory rules like the “shoot safely” requirement, to prevent unintended change. Other requirements include: Instruction on the role of firearms in preserving peace and freedom; the constitutional roots of the right to keep and bear arms; the history of firearms and marksmanship; the basic operation of firearms; practice time at a shooting range, and more.

The Arizona Game and Fish Dept. (AGFD), specified by law as the course instructors, are discussing the specifics of the curriculum. AGFD has currently trained more than 18,000 school students in archery, a shooting sport, and are pleased with the final version of the bill, which they supported.

The law began as an idea and rough draft from Bloomfield Press publisher Alan Korwin, who asked, “Why don’t we make marksmanship a requirement for a high school diploma? We know many kids get no gun-safety training, and marksmanship teaches responsibility, improves concentration, and affects national preparedness.” Because a required course would have budget implications and likely sink the bill, State Senator Karen Johnson introduced the class as an elective. It sailed through the Senate unanimously, and through the House by a veto-proof nearly three-to-one margin. Governor Janet Napolitano signed it into law on April 11 (the text follows [See here]).

One television reporter, obviously nervous about providing such education, asked, “Don’t you think kids will rush to line up just so they can get a chance to go shooting?” Without hesitating Korwin replied, “If it’s that popular, and kids get all that safety training and experience, that would be a good thing.”

April 5, 2005

NY Court: You have to let him kill you

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:18 am

Suppose your not-so-good neighbor — who once before stabbed you and left you in the hospital for two days — is standing in your apartment doorway (again) with a knife (again), and shouting “I will kill you” (again). Do you have a right to defend yourself?

New York’s highest court says “No.” Why? According to them, the right to defend yourself applies only in your home, and your apartment doorway is “a hybrid private-public space in which a person doesn’t have the same reasonable expectation of seclusion as in a home.a hybrid private-public space in which a person doesn’t have the same reasonable expectation of seclusion as in a home.”

In other words, even if you you are in your home, as long as the attacker stays inches ouside, you can’t legally do anything to protect yourself. Thus, New York’s highest course has unanimously upheld the conviction of the victim, who hit his attacker with a lead pipe, killing him. The court said the victim has a “duty to retreat” even though he is already in his own home.

Clayton Cramer has extensive details and analysis.

Moral of the story: If you live in New York, feel free to stab your neighbors whenever they are standing in, or walking through, their doorways. The courts will protect you from anything they might do in self-defense.

April 4, 2005

NYTimes gets it right

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:00 am

I regularly dump on the mainstream media, especially the New York Times, for getting things horribly wrong. So, to be fair I am compelled to point out when the get something right, especially on a topic they usually get wrong.

See this article from the NYT: Shootings Fuel a Drive to Ease Gun Laws” by Kate Zernike. (Hat tip: Alphecca.)

The only thing I can add is that all of the recent highly-publicized shooting have all taken place where guns are more or less completely illegal — a courthouse (in Atlanta), a high school (in Minnesota), a church service in Wisconsin, and Chicago. These laws obviously didn’t prevent the shootings. In fact, a study by John R. Lott, Jr. and WIlliam Landes found that is is extremely rare for a multiple-victim public shooting to take place in a state that issues concealed-carry permits; those that do take place in such states tend to occur in locations when carrying guns is illegal (courthouses, schools, churches, etc.).

March 28, 2005

Maybe they should tax the sheriffs instead…

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:14 pm

The state of Maine is considering a 7% tax on legal guns and ammunition to pay for courthouse security. The reason?

[G]un control advocates like Bill Harwood of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence saw a clear connection between gun owners and courthouse security. He said that gun owners contribute to the need for more court security, so they should help pay to keep firearms out of the courthouses.

Let me see if I understand this: People who buy guns legally (and thus can be taxed) “contribute to the need for more court security” to keep out criminals, who buy their guns illegally (and thus cannot be taxed). The connection seems to be that legal gunowners have guns, and criminals also have guns, so let’s tax the legal gunowners to pay for the costs caused by criminals.

Does this make sense to any of you? If so, how about we tax ski caps, since criminals use them in holdups. In fact, bank robbers probably buy their ski caps legally, and own them legally, so the connection is even stronger!

Of course, this was also justified on the basis of the courthouse shooting in Atlanta earlier this month. But in that case, the shooter got the gun by overpowering a sheriff’s deputy who was guarding him. So, perhaps it would be a better idea to tax sheriff’s deputies, since they “contribute to the need for more court security” far more than legal gun owners who rarely have business in court.

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